How Long do I Have to sue for Sexual Harassment?

Victims of sexual harassment in New York City have multiple options when it comes to filing suit against their harassers. Chief among these is the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is a federal organization dedicated to equity in the workplace. This includes sexual harassment protections.

Sexual harassment is more than just a boss saying, “Sleep with me, or you’re fired.” If, for example, a boss, or even a coworker, were to say something derogatory about women in general in front of someone who takes offense at the remark, that constitutes sexual harassment. This is true even if the complainant is male or nonbinary. Part of equity in the workplace includes protection for all genders. Clients or customers of a business can also be held liable for such comments or behavior under federal law.

Victims also have the choice to report any incidents to one of two agencies: the New York Division of Human Rights and the New York City Commission on Human Rights. These two organizations have file-sharing and work-sharing agreements with the EEOC, so when a victim reports to one of them, the EEOC will be on that person’s side too. Victims also have the right simply to file suit in state court or to report to one or more of the aforementioned agencies and file suit in state court.

The timeframes for allowable reporting of sexual harassment are different between agencies, however, so it is crucial for a victim’s case that these timeframes are known. For example, filing a sexual harassment claim through the EEOC falls under the purview of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and victims have 180 days from the date of the incident to report it or to file suit.

In cases where the applicable state legislature has previously enacted a similar law that prohibits the same kind of harassment or discrimination, that timeframe is extended to 300 days. In the State of New York, which has a similar law, that means that 180-day deadline never applies in cases where the business in question has 15 or more employees. If, however, the harassment takes place outside the boundaries of the State of New York, or the employee in question is from another state and is working temporarily, or any one of a number of other scenarios, other laws from other jurisdictions may apply. Therefore, after an incident, immediately seeking counsel from a lawyer whose focus is sexual harassment law would be wise.

When it comes to the New York State Division of Human Rights, the timeframe is one year. Victims need not file with both the EEOC and the Division of Human Rights, but they may do so if they desire. A victim’s final choice is simply to file suit in state court. If victims choose to file in the New York State Supreme Court and to forego immediate federal involvement, they have three years from the date of the incident to do so. Of course, victims may pursue their individual cases in any way that is best for them.

If someone is unlucky enough to experience multiple incidents of sexual harassment, perhaps even from multiple parties, the deadline applies to each incident. It is important, therefore, not to wait too long to report each incident or to file suit. Having all incidents properly reported, without any falling outside the timeline, will possibly bolster a victim’s case. Here is another place where a lawyer with the applicable practice focus can advise victims on their best choice, or choices, of actions.

If you have experienced sexual harassment or just want to find out what to do in case you experience it, then you can take advantage of a free initial consultation. Give us call today to set up an appointment and find out what you need to know.

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